No one denies the power and impact of a great teacher.
There is something intangible that students learn from the greats. Something internal. Something deeper than just understanding the content. It’s something about these teachers personally.
Self-respect. Confidence. Self-Efficacy. Belief. Positivity. Authenticity.
Students are drawn to this type of person. Behavior management is easier and students are engaged. We as humans are naturally drawn to people who exude wholeheartedness and authenticity.
So, the question is, are you teaching wholeheartedly? Are you approaching your classroom from a place of complete authenticity?
Here is an example that we can almost all relate to… if you watch any reality “star” show (Food Network Star, HGTV Design Star, American Idol, The Voice, even the Bachelor, etc.) you know what I’m talking about. The judges always ask the contestants to show their unique style or personality. Those who struggle with this usually are not approaching from a place of whole-heartedness and authenticity. They are the people who show insecurity, shame, fear, perfectionism, comparison, low self-worth and other lies that rule their thoughts and ultimately create their reality.
On the other hand, the people who know who they are, come from a place of self-compassion, balance, resilience, gratitude, and passion, and who are truly authentic always do well in those shows! The judges and audience are naturally drawn to them, even if their style is different from their own.
But there is something else about these two different personas…one is at peace with who and where they are and one is at odds with him/herself working frantically but getting nowhere.
Obviously there is no denying who we all want to be in that scenario!! We want to be the winner of our lives – the authentic person that has all of those great qualities!
I want that for you too.
Wholehearted teaching means coming to the classroom as a whole, complete, authentic human being who isn’t trying to get emotional needs met by students. I should note here that some of you teachers will have deeper, more seeded issues that my require seeing a counselor or therapist (e.g. past trauma, unresolved emotions or deep shame from your past). But the vast majority of us teachers are just simply overwhelmed, stressed out, and exhausted which makes any of our “inauthenticity” trigger points (like control, comparison, self-doubt, and anxiety) quick to trip up and cause us problems. That’s where coaching (through A Teacher’s Best Friend or a coach that you know and trust) can be really helpful.
In my last post, Become an Even Better Teacher, I addressed the importance of self-compassion as a way to combat a teacher’s typical vice – perfectionism. In the coming weeks, I’ll be addressing some of the other common pitfalls to complete authenticity for teachers:
- Fearing Failure: Why Modeling Vulnerability and Failing Forward Helps Us and Our Students Succeed
- Feeling Unworthy: Combating the Fear of Not Being “Enough” for Our Students
- Addressing Exhaustion: Preventing Exhaustion and Rejuvenating your Spirit
- Not Caring for Ourselves First: Addressing Self-Care and why it’s our “Oxygen Mask” as teachers
- Fearing Judgement: Letting Go of What People Think
I am basing this post series on the experience of teachers whom I’ve worked with over the years, and also on the brilliant work of Brene Brown, specifically from her books The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. If you are still looking for some summer reading to rejuvenate your spirit and develop personally and professionally, I would highly suggest either of these books. I absolutely love Daring Greatly and have read it three times already since a friend of mine recommended it to me last year. Every time I read it, I get something new and insightful out of it! So, I would highly recommend reading it as a companion to these posts! In the book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown has a fantastic chapter on Wholehearted Parenting that directly applies to our study of Wholehearted Teaching. You can also find the wholehearted parenting manifesto here, which again can be directly translated to a wholehearted teaching manifesto.
I also would highly recommend journaling throughout this series. I will be doing too! Getting into the habit of journaling about your insights and gratitude is a fantastic way to fight burnout all throughout the school year. Start it now! I’ll provide some questions and prompts to get you thinking throughout the series.
So let’s spend the summer working on ourselves so that we can be more wholehearted teachers, more authentic people, and more peaceful all around!
My Challenge to You: To get a journal (above is a picture of mine) and to consider reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly as part of your summer reading list. Connect with me on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter (@ATeachersBFF) for inspiration and ideas. And share your ideas with me too!
This post’s question to chew on: What does wholehearted teaching look like for you?
~Alison, A Teacher’s Best Friend
Photo taken by Your Marketing BFF